While the Kansas Jayhawks approach the Big 12 Conference season they’ll try to end an ongoing struggle against Pac-12 teams that continues from last season.
The Jayhawks (9-2) can break their three-game losing streak against Pac-12 teams when they play Stanford (6-6) in Sacramento for a neutral site game in Pac-12 territory.
The streak started with the heartbreaking Elite Eight game against Oregon last season when the Jayhawks were expected to use the Sprint Center venue in Kansas City to its advantage and gain a Final Four berth in Glendale, AZ. Then KU’s struggles against Pac-12 teams spilled over to this season with back-to-back losses.
This month they lost another game at Sprint Center to Washington, Michael Porter Jr.’s first destination before he decided to play for the Missouri Tigers. Without Porter’s presence Washington was tenth in the Pac-12 preseason poll. Then the Pac-12 struggle continued at Allen Fieldhouse against Arizona St., which turned into the Jayhawks’ first nonconference home loss since a 2014 loss to San Diego State.
Arizona State ranked sixth in the Pac- 12 preseason poll, but has been on a crash course to the top, is undefeated with another notable Big 12 win against Kansas State. Breaking the top-5 in the most recent AP poll, the Sun Devils have a group of explosive guards who easily scored over 20-points apiece against Kansas, and sit pretty going into conference play.
With the conference season around the corner, Kansas could use anything positive going forward. And it seems like the focus is to make adjustments with the current lineup. Seven guys get regular playing time right now with pending additions of Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa. Arizona St. transfer Sam Cunliffe could also make his third appearance of the year against Stanford.
The Jayhawks jumped to a ten-point lead against ASU, and looked like they were going to wash out the bad taste left over from the loss to Washington. Coach Bill Self said, “I thought we were really good, probably the best we’ve played all year the first three or four minutes.”
ASU battled and eventually took the lead during a 15-0 run with about 14:30 left in the second half. From there the Jayhawks looked deflated.
“Our defense was as bad as it was against Washington there in the second half after we got a little bit tired,” Self said.
With the win, ASU head coach Bobby Hurley becomes one of five active head coaches to win at Allen Fieldhouse in the Bill Self era.
It was the first time Kansas had lost back-to-back games since the 2013-14 season, and they hadn’t lost three games in a row since the season before that.
The loss to ASU prompted Self to say it’s “the softest team that Kansas has had since (he’s) been there.”
Winning in the last seconds on the road against Nebraska might indicate the team might have got the message.
Before KU, the last time ASU beat a team ranked in the top-5 was No. 4 Stanford in 1998. Not only does KU get a chance to break its Pac-12 losing streak against Stanford, it could also ease the pain of the Jayhawks’ season-ending loss to Stanford in the 2014 NCAA tournament.